Productivity Decline, War Fears Hit Stocks

An unexpected decline in productivity and growing conflict with Iraq and North Korea weighed on stocks Thursday.

The Nasdaq was unchanged at 1301, the S&P 500 declined 5 to 838, and the Dow fell 55 to 7929. Volume declined to 1.38 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.23 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 20-11 on the NYSE, and 18-12 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 71% on the NYSE, and 51% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 42-96 on the NYSE, and 40-85 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, EDS and Overture warned. Tech Data announced an acquisition.

During the day, Expedia surged 7.3% after beating estimates and announcing a stock split. The stock had initially declined on news of the departure of founder and CEO Richard Barton, but 100% year-over-year revenue growth was too good a story for investors to pass up.

Agilent plunged 24% on a warning. J2 Global gained 2.2% after beating estimates, while Aether fell 8% after missing revenue estimates. United Online slipped 2.8% on better than expected results and in-line guidance.

IBM rose 0.3% after beating out EDS for a Ford contract.

NVIDIA climbed 0.8% after settling a dispute with Microsoft , which climbed 1%.

Oracle , which ended down a penny, won a UK contract.

Level 3 gained 2.6% after winning a contract from eBay .

Ericsson gained 7.6% on news of a new CEO.

Palm , up 1.3%, is a bright spot in PDA sales.

Marvell climbed 0.7% on news of an acquisition.

Rediff.com fell 16% after discontinuing quarterly financial statements.

HP , off 0.8%, made a push for computer equipment recycling.

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